The German Offshore Transmission Grid – (Finally) A Success Story?

As a result of the extensive promotion of offshore wind energy in Germany since 2006 and, in particular, since the so-called “Energiewende” by the German government in 2011, there is an increased demand to expand the German offshore transmission grid. However, the applicable statutory framework proved to be insufficient to provide the needed legal and regulatory guidance for offshore grid investments which have exceeded € 5 billion since 2010 and are expected to increase in the upcoming years. Furthermore, the increasing demand for offshore components and technology has exhausted the available market capacities. Because of these challenges, both de facto and de jure, and after long lasting discussions among the concerned parties, the German legislator implemented on 28 December 2012 a new statutory framework containing in particular a structural approach for the offshore grid development as well as a new liability regime for cases of delayed construction or disruption of offshore grid connection lines. The new statutory framework is aimed at providing potential investors and grid operators with the due level of legal certainty required for a further and effective expansion of offshore wind energy in Germany. In this regard, it should provide a sound basis for facilitating the Energiewende, but it is now up to all stakeholders involved to find a workable solution.

In 2012, in order “to speed up the progress on connecting the offshore wind farms to the grid”, the German Federal Government set out to implement a new statutory framework for offshore transmission grid connections. The ambitious goal was to “create legal certainty, remove investment barriers and render investments in offshore wind farms and grid connections economically attractive.” 
On 28 December 2012, after completing a fasttrack legislative process, the “Third Energy Amendment Act” entered into force. Regarding the German offshore transmission grid, the new rules include no less than a “system change” from the previously uncoordinated development of grid connections for offshore wind farms (“OWF”) towards a comprehensive offshore grid development plan comparable to the onshore grid network development plan, which was already introduced by a previous energy amendment act in 2011. In addition, the amendment also introduced a comprehensive liability regime specifically addressing the intrinsic risks of the offshore business, in particular from construction delays or the interruption of offshore grid connection lines. The Federal Government is convinced that the new provisions “have overcome a major hurdle which has impeded a faster expansion and connection of offshore wind power.”
However, to assess the impact of this new regulatory framework for the offshore transmission grid in Germany, the recent legislative changes need to be considered in a wider context.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Source: Issue 01/2013 (April 2013)
Pages: 10
Price: € 41,65
Autor: Dr. Daniel J. Zimmer
Dr. Jörg Meinzenbach
Juan Restrepo Rodríguez

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